Being a good leader depends on countless factors. But one of them, according to Englishman Simon Sinek, is very important: the courage to protect teams and to risk when necessary
What is the main requirement of inspiring leadership? This is a question that generates many answers. And Englishman Simon Sinek, a management expert, found a satisfactory adjective: courage. For him, what makes professionals seen by their teams as excellent leaders is the ability to protect teams and the daring to risk. Simon is releasing in Brazil the book Líderes se Serve Último (44.90 reais, HSM) – and the metaphor of the title explains exactly what he believes to be the great role of a good people manager: developing teams, making subordinates the first to "feed". Only then can teams have the strength to produce and motivation to work.
YOU S/A – Your leadership theory says that great leaders put the interests of teams first and "eat last." Why is this attitude important?
SIMON- The metaphor "leaders eat last" relates to that of parents, who always feed children first – not because they read it in a book, not because they were taught, simply because they use paternal or maternal instinct. This instinct to care for people who depend on you can be applied to leadership. Leading is not about being in charge. It's about taking care of the people under your command. That's the real leadership. Leaders who eat last could even eat first, because the position allows. They could also get perks and advantages because of their position. But they don't. True leaders prefer to sacrifice their interests to take good care of the lives of the people who are part of their team – and never sacrifice the life of the team to take care of their own interests. They choose to eat last for the sake of honesty and loyalty. Leaders are the ones who protect. And when people feel safe, they pass that security on to their peers, customers, and consumers.
YOU S/A – Your book shows the evolution of the leadership of the Paleolithic era to this day. What were the cave time leaders like?
SIMON- What makes someone a leader in the Paleolithic era and today is exactly the same thing. What evolves are the conditions in which we operate. In the Paleolithic, we lived in caves in tribes that had between 100 and 150 people. Our leaders were strong and great men – and there were alpha men. Back then, the point was to survive. The strongest men, the "alphas," were able to withstand heavy loads, find food, and protect the tribe from danger. Because of this, they had the privilege of owning the tribe's first choice of meat (to feel stronger and continue hunting) and the first choice of companion they would like to have (to ensure that the best genes were perpetuated).
YOU S/A – Did they have these privileges because they took good care of the tribe?
SIMON – There was an anthropological code of what it meant to lead in the Paleolithic, which is the same to this day: the leaders allow preferential treatment for the leader. But this has a cost, the leader has to act according to the collective interest. If the leaders give the leader all the benefits and he doesn't protect them from danger, he's not a real leader. Leadership is a service. Service comes with sacrifice. If there is no sacrifice, there is no service, no leadership.
YOU S/A – What characteristics make someone an exceptional leader?
SIMON – The requirement to be a leader is not to have vision or charisma. It's courage. Leading means we have to take the first step, that we have to put the rope around our necks to stand up for what we believe in. All good leaders are brave and courage is not something that miraculously arises within you. Our courage comes from the courage of others, from those who did something before us and who look us in the eye and say, "I believe in you. You can do that." Characteristics such as self-centrism and greed end with the meaning of the word lead. Leadership is about taking care of the people you're responsible for. Those who forget this are not leaders, they are simply authorities who command using tools such as fear or the need that the employee has to keep that job. But we don't follow these professionals. We follow good leaders not because we need to, but because we want to.
YOU S/A – What are the differences between managers and leaders?
SIMON- Managers worry about improvements. Leaders worry about jumping ahead. Managers focus on systems, metrics, processes and results. Leaders keep the focus on the perception of how the team's actions influence the results. Managers look at the numbers. Leaders look at the "we." All metrics managers have the opportunity to become people leaders.
VOCÊ S/A – Brazil is facing an economic crisis and, at the same time, a crisis of institutional leadership. In companies, what do leaders need to do to combat their teams' disbelief?
SIMON- Become better leaders. Leadership is not a marketing campaign. It's not about convincing people, it's about taking care of people. Leadership is not about sending a message. It's about the message itself. Think of Dr. Martin Luther King: 250,000 people have been listening to him speak closely. There were no email reminders, Facebook campaign, or hashtags to attract this crowd. They all came together because they had something in common – believing in an America in which laws should be equal to everyone, regardless of skin color, religion, or economic class. Dr. King was able to create a strong movement at a time of crisis because he didn't just sit there waiting for a better future. He didn't make the "I have a plan" speech. He gave the "I have a dream" speech and turned into words what he craved. With that, Dr. King gave us a world that we could be a part of and in which we could contribute. He didn't want to try to prove how he could solve it on his own. He created the conditions (and the desire) for us to do it together, beside him.
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